Républica Portuguesa (The Portuguese Republic) is the western-most country on the European continent. It is bordered by Spain to the east and the North Atlantic Ocean to the north, west and south. The islands of Azores and Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean are autonomous regions (regiões autonomas) of Portugal. The population is 10,676,910 and the literacy rate 93.3%. Portuguese is the official language and the language of instruction.
The area of present-day Portugal was first visited by the Celts, followed by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and the Romans, and the entire Iberian Peninsula was conquered by the Moors. During the period of the Spanish Reconquista (Reconquest) of the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors, Portugal was a county of Spain. By 1149, Portugal gained independence from Spain with Alfonso I as the first King.
In the 15th century, Portugal began to explore the world, and claimed the islands of Madeira and the Azores in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa. In the 1440s, Portugal began to explore Africa and several colonies were established. In 1500, both the Spanish and Portuguese reached the east coast of South America. A later agreement gave the area of present-day Brazil to Portugal. In 1497, Vasco da Gama landed in India, and within several years, Portuguese missionaries and traders were established in India. In 1557, Portuguese traders established a colony on Macao.
In 1581, King Philip II of Spain claimed Portugal and the 2 crowns were merged, but a bloodless rebellion in 1640 restored the Portuguese crown. During the reign of Napoleon, Portugal was divided between France and Portugal. By 1908, the Portuguese royal family was exiled and the Portuguese Republic was established.
Portugal was a founding member of NATO and joined the European Union on June 1 1986.
Currently, the Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior is responsible for higher education in Portugal.
Education is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 15. Ensino básico (Primary school) is 9 years and is divided into 3 cycles. The first cycle is 4 years, the second cycle is 2 years, and the third cycle is 3 years. Upon completion, students are awarded a Diploma do Ensino Básico (Diploma of Basic Education).
Ensino secundario (Secondary school) is 3 years and has 4 tracks: scientific-humanities, technological, specialized arts, and professional studies. Vocational and professional studies are offered at escolas secundárias profissionais (professional secondary schools). Upon completion, students are awarded a Diploma de Formação Profissional de Nivel III, Diploma de Estudies Profissionais, or a Certificado de Qualificação Profissional de Nivel III. Students in academic tracks are awarded a Diploma de Ensino Secundário upon completion. The Certificado de Fim de Estudos Secundárias was also awarded until the mid 2000s.
There are 2 types of post-secondary education: ensino universitário (university instruction) and ensino politécnico (polytechnic instruction). Admission requirements for post-secondary study are set by each individual institution. These institutions require a Diploma de Ensino Secundário and some require sufficient scores on an entrance exam, concurso nacional for public institutions and concurso local for private institutions. Admission to post-secondary study is coordinated by the Comissão Nacional de Acesso ao Ensino Superior (CNAES) (National Committee for Access to Higher Education). Students ages 23 and above who do not hold a Diploma de Ensino Secundário can sit for the Exame Extraordinário de Avaliação de Capacidade para Acesso ao Ensino Superior (extraordinary exam to assess the capacity to enter higher-level studies) and apply for post-secondary programs.
Ensino superior politécnico (Post-secondary technical education) is offered at 15 institutos politécnicos (polytechnic institutions), 3 nursing colleges, 2 colleges of higher education, and 3 polytechnic colleges of higher education.
Cursos de especialização tecnológica (CET) (Specialized technological courses) were created in 1979 and are offered at escolas superiores (higher schools) in polytechnics. After 2 years of study, students are awarded a Diploma de Especialização Tecnológica (DET) e Qualificação Profissional de Nível 4. First-level Licenciatura (licentiate) programs are 3-4 years (180-240 European Credit Transfer System). Second-level Mestrado (Master) programs are 3-4 semesters (90-120 European Credit Transfer System) and require a Licenciatura (licentiate) for admission. Prior to the 2006-07 academic year, polytechnics offered a 3-year Bacharelato and a 4 to 5-year Licenciatura (licentiate). Full implementation of the Bologna-compliant degree structure however, did not take place until 2009-10 so some Bacharelato (also called Bacharel) degrees may have been awarded in the period 2006-09 leading up to full implementation.
Ensino superior universitário (University study) is offered at 14 universities and 1 non-integrated university; 4 military and police science university institutions: Academia da Força Aérea (Air Force Academy), Academia Militar (Military Academy), Escola Naval (Naval College), and Instituto Superior de Ciências Policiais e Segurança Interna (Higher Institute of Police Sciences and Homeland Security). The Portuguese Catholic University is private, but is recognized by Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education.
First-level studies are 6-8 semesters (180-240 European Credit Transfer System) and lead to the Licenciatura (Licentiate). Prior to the 2006-07 academic year, the Licenciatura (Licentiate) was 4-5 years though, again, some may have been awarded up to full implementation in 2009-10 of the new degree structure. [strike: and universities also offered a 3-year Bacharelato]
Second-level studies require a Licenciatura (Licentiate) for admission. They are 3-4 semesters (90-120 European Credit Transfer System) and, upon successful defense of a thesis, students are awarded a Mestrado (Master). Mestrado Integrado (Integrado Master) programs are usually in professional areas of study and are 10-12 semesters (300-360 European Credit Transfer System). They require a Diploma de Ensino Secundário (Diploma of Secondary Education) for admission.
Doctoral programs require a Mestrado or a Mestrado Integrado for admission. Following coursework and defense of a dissertation, students are awarded a Doutoramento (Doctorate). A Doutoramento is only awarded by universities.
Primary and secondary school teachers must hold a licenciatura. There is no specialized teaching credential.